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    No tickets in parking lot accidents

    Question for officers who do not cite people for traffic violations when an accident occurs on private property (such as a parking lot)... Why is that?

    My boss' wife was broadsided by a driver who admitted running a stopsign, yet the officer told her that it was a parking lot therefore they never issue tickets. I'm just trying to understand why that is, when you certainly *can* issue a ticket to someone who out in the lot doing donuts.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnG View Post
    Question for officers who do not cite people for traffic violations when an accident occurs on private property (such as a parking lot)... Why is that?

    My boss' wife was broadsided by a driver who admitted running a stopsign, yet the officer told her that it was a parking lot therefore they never issue tickets. I'm just trying to understand why that is, when you certainly *can* issue a ticket to someone who out in the lot doing donuts.
    John, the answer to your question is probably going to depend on your State's Vehicle Code. In some states, the Vehicle Code is not enforceable on private property. In others, it is under certain circumstances. Actually, the issuance/non issuance of a citation isn't that critical. In these situations, the insurance companies assess fault, and settle accordingly. On a personal level, I can appreciate your desire for a citation to have been issued. Please understand that my reply isn't a "one size fits all reply".The laws in each state vary.

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    It may vary from state to state.

    Most parking lots are not governed by state traffic code, they are private property. Donuts in a parking lot, or breaking traction, is reckless driving; a class 1 misdemeanor. Misdemeanors and felonies can be enforced anywhere…traffic code (IE Fail to yield the right of way) cannot. Short answer…it is a civil matter.

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    Thanks - that explains it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnG View Post
    Question for officers who do not cite people for traffic violations when an accident occurs on private property (such as a parking lot)... Why is that?

    My boss' wife was broadsided by a driver who admitted running a stopsign, yet the officer told her that it was a parking lot therefore they never issue tickets. I'm just trying to understand why that is, when you certainly *can* issue a ticket to someone who out in the lot doing donuts.
    In NC, a parking lot is considered a Public Vehicular Area, and certain traffic laws can be enforced in such an area. As for running a stop sign in a PVA, that is not something that can be written, unless that intersection is one where the person at the stop sign is about to turn onto a public roadway.

    Many more traffic laws are enforceable on a roadway then in a parking lot.

    While I wouldn't write a stop sign violation; in her case I would write the driver for unsafe movement.

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    Most of the motor vehicle section of the Ohio Revised Code does not apply to private property. For example, the stop signs in a private parking lot are not legal stop signs as they are on the roadway. There are a few sections that apply to private property, but they tend to be the exception rather than the rule.

    As for doing donuts on private property, there's a specific statute for Willful and Wanton Disregard of Safety on Private Property.
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    In CA, parking lots are generally private property and violations of the Vehicle Code apply only to PUBLIC streets and property; except for Driving Under The Influence, Reckless Driving, Hit and Run.

    However, one should be cautious in a shopping center parking lot because in some cities, the drives (roadways) have been dedicated by the city as public in nature and are subject to traffic laws. So, if one fails to stop for a stop sign, speeds, etc., a ticket may be the result. When in doubt, comply!!! "Ignorance of the law is no excuse!"
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    John, some people have the misconception that somebody has to get a ticket to in order to be found at fault. That isn't the case (at least here in MD anyway). I will note my investigation and the insurance company will follow up on it. If the other car ran a stop sign, they will be at fault and will have to pay whether they are issued a citation or not.

    It is very rare that I write tickets for accidents. An accident is an accident...me writing a ticket is only going to pile on to someones problems who will already be paying for being the at fault driver. I will write citations for extenuating circumstances, such as driving suspended, DUI, Hit & Run, reckless or negligent driving....but your simple run of the mill property damage accident I dont write tickets for.

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    Most parking lots that have signs also do not even come close to conforming to MUTCD standards, and that can decrease their validity as a traffic control signal.
    Let your watchword be duty, and know no other talisman of success than labor. Let honor be your guiding star in your dealing with your superiors, with your fellows, with all. Be as true to a trust reposed as the needle to the pole. Stand by the right even to the sacrifice of life itself, and learn that death is preferable to dishonor. ~ Gov. Richard Coke, October 4, 1876

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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnG View Post
    Question for officers who do not cite people for traffic violations when an accident occurs on private property (such as a parking lot)... Why is that?

    My boss' wife was broadsided by a driver who admitted running a stopsign, yet the officer told her that it was a parking lot therefore they never issue tickets. I'm just trying to understand why that is, when you certainly *can* issue a ticket to someone who out in the lot doing donuts.
    Va., only three things apply on private parking lots like Walmart, Sheets, etc ...
    • Reckless Driving
    • Hit & Run
    • DUI


    Donuts are handled under Reckless Driving.

    If done at sufficient speed and with sufficient carelessness, I have written stop signs under Reckless Driving, might have in the case you cite. Normal negligence, I don't stretch to Reckless. Backing out of a space and raking the side of a passing car, I leave to insurance companies.

    I'll do all I can to catchup with a Hit and Run or DUI driver and often assume reckless intent and pop for both if I catch them.
    "That's right man, we've got mills here that'll blow that heap of your's right off the road."

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  11. #11
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    When I observe people speed or run stop signs in our shopping centers, I stop them anyway. I will give them a verbal or a written...most average joes don't know they can't be cited.
    "To punish and enslave"

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    Here in WI there are only 4 traffic violations that can be enforced on public-access private property (non-public-access, like your driveway or the back-40 on your farm, don't fall under any motor vehicle statutes):
    • Operating a Motor Vehicle While Intoxicated
    • Hit & Run (with Injury)
    • Reckless Driving
    • (My personal favorite) Running Over a Fire Hose

    The thing the general public doesn't understand is that, when it comes to personal property accidents (those that don't involve injuries), law enforcement is essentially serving in a civil role for the insurance companies. While it's typically not the police's role to 'work' for private companies, there's come to be a tacit understanding between insurance companies and police that we will show up and serve as impartial third parties for accidents. If we didn't the insurance companies would have to deploy their own representatives all over the country, who would respond to accidents and provide documentation. That's not feasible or cost-effective.

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    Because writing a ticket doesn't accomplish anything.
    Both drivers have enough problems with the accident, do I really need to pile it ontop of one of them?

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    Quote Originally Posted by skigoggles View Post
    Because writing a ticket doesn't accomplish anything.
    Both drivers have enough problems with the accident, do I really need to pile it ontop of one of them?
    Unlike other responses, your reasoning does not appear to differentiate between public/private roads.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ten08 View Post
    If they can't be cited, what authority do you have to give them a written warning? Where I worked a third written warning in a year turned into a citation so it had to be legal.
    Here is the California vehicle code for reckless driving

    23103. (a) A person who drives a vehicle upon a highway in willful
    or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property is guilty
    of reckless driving.
    (b) A person who drives a vehicle in an offstreet parking
    facility, as defined in subdivision (c) of Section 12500, in willful
    or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property is guilty
    of reckless driving.


    Could an officer articulate that running a stop sign at 20 mph in a shopping center with other cars and pedestrians was willful disregard for safety of persons OR property. Seems like that person would need to be stopped and talked to even if it didnt merit charging them with the violation which is why a verbal warning would be given.

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    We wouldn't even respond to take a report on private property if it wasn't a hit and run or injury.
    Where'd you learn that, Cheech? Drug school?

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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnG View Post
    Unlike other responses, your reasoning does not appear to differentiate between public/private roads.
    Nope. But just because I wouldn't write you on a public road is irrelevant, since I wouldn't write you in the parking lot, which is what you asked.

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    Quote Originally Posted by juicesnn4e2 View Post
    i envy you
    As do I. My department is probably easily 2:1 ratio of private property crashed vs roadway crashes. I swear we should have a substation at Wal-Mart to handle people running into those concrete posts they have in the parking lots. The only up side is that the crash photos are great when you show up and find a car with three wheels off of the ground because the front of the car is on top of a four foot concrete and steel post.
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  19. #19
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    We don't handle traffic accidents on private property, unless of course it is a hit and run. Other than that they swap info and call their insurance companies and fill out a form from the state, saves us a lot of headaches.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JDCOP View Post
    We wouldn't even respond to take a report on private property if it wasn't a hit and run or injury.
    Most agencies in the LA area are like this as well......

    The most we might do is show up and assist the parties in exchanging their info......
    The posts on this forum by this poster are of his personal opinion, and his personal opinion alone

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    We respond to parking lot crashes, however unless there is significant damage, a hit and run, or a DUI we do not take a report. We take a regular accident report form, fill out the information for both drivers, and hand it to you to mail to the State (the narrative and all the other stuff that is on an accident report goes into the trash, the only thing mailed to the state is the information). If we're busy or we just don't want to deal with you we'll even just hand you the piece of paper and tell you to fill it out and send it to the state.

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    Quote Originally Posted by skigoggles View Post
    Nope. But just because I wouldn't write you on a public road is irrelevant, since I wouldn't write you in the parking lot, which is what you asked.
    Fair enough.

    Do you have the option of not writing a ticket for a public road accident, even when the driver admits to it (running red / running stop / unsafe lane change etc)?

    I was in an accident recently and during the police report the officer said he had "no choice" but to cite the other driver who admitted to the unsafe maneuver that caused the accident. I was just trying to understand the procedural or legislative difference that causes such a black/white contrast: Public = Must Cite if evidence/confession supports a cite. Private: Cannot Cite even if evidence/confession supports a cite.

    From the replies to this thread I have reviewed the ORC and see exactly what the officers here are talking about. All the "standard" traffic offenses specifically reference "upon a public highway", which explains the parking lot exclusion. However, the Willful/Wanton (Reckless) Operation specifically references off-highway / private property (unless you have permission, such as a race track or SCCA event).

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    Quote Originally Posted by 10-41 View Post
    When I observe people speed or run stop signs in our shopping centers, I stop them anyway. I will give them a verbal or a written...most average joes don't know they can't be cited.
    what??

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnG View Post
    Do you have the option of not writing a ticket for a public road accident, even when the driver admits to it (running red / running stop / unsafe lane change etc)?

    I was in an accident recently and during the police report the officer said he had "no choice" but to cite the other driver who admitted to the unsafe maneuver that caused the accident. I was just trying to understand the procedural or legislative difference that causes such a black/white contrast: Public = Must Cite if evidence/confession supports a cite. Private: Cannot Cite even if evidence/confession supports a cite.


    There are very few situations in which the police don't have a choice.
    Even if one of them admit some negligence, I'm not going to write them. If I write a ticket and they're not guilty in court, doesn't affect the accident portion. Same as if they're guilty in court, just means they have to pay for the ticket as well as the accident. The narrative portion of the accident report is for indicating what happened and why.
    The insurance companies are going to determine their own fault anyway.

    Now there are exceptions. You're a belligerent dick on the street, yeah then you probably will get the ticket.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by skigoggles View Post
    You're a belligerent dick on the street, yeah then you probably will get the ticket.
    This is a universal truth, the world over.

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